“Let us give according to our incomes, lest God make our incomes match our gifts.” Rev. Peter Marshall, U.S. Senate Chaplain 1/4/47 – 1/26/49
Realism, I suspect, is the secret to actually making a New Year’s Resolution you’ll keep, especially if it deals with losing weight or giving away more money.
If you find yourself wanting to be more generous, the likelihood is very high you can be if you are willing to examine and change your spending patterns.
Begin by analyzing your expenditures. Make a big 12-month spreadsheet and list as best you can where every dollar that came into your possession during the previous year went. Your spreadsheet categories will come from your checkbook register and your credit card statements.
Some will be the basics most of us share like housing, heat, electricity, telephone, transportation, insurance, medical, clothing, etc. And then there are personal optional expenses like restaurant meals, entertainment, travel and the everyday splurges we treat ourselves to like ice cream, lattes, and whatever.
Also, take a look at how many checks you write for cash that you can’t account for where the money went. When I did that for us it was an eye-opening, jaw-dropping experience that made me realize how easy it is to lose track of significant sums of money.
If there is one month where too many annual, semi-annual or quarterly bills are due, moving some of those payments to months where your mandatory expenses are lower will improve your cash flow and make it less likely you will have to borrow to meet expenses that month.
Once you have a better picture of your financial situation, there are lots of resources available to help you see more clearly your own spending habits and adjust your budget to fund your priorities.
Aiming high is wonderful, but it is all too easy to fall short of your expectations if your goal isn’t reasonable. Making a New Year’s Resolution that involves starting small and taking incremental steps is more apt to be one you’ll keep.
Peter Marshall didn’t mince words when he said “Let us give according to our incomes, lest God make our incomes match our gifts.”
Blessings on your efforts to budget for philanthropy,